May 11, 2023
Channel Your Energy: Why Investing in Your Channel Marketing Management Can Lead to Big Wins
Forrester Research found that up to 60% of B2B channel marketing investments are wasted.
The biggest reasons?
- Lack of coordination and alignment between the company and their channel partners
- Poor planning and execution
- A failure to tailor messaging and content to specific audiences.
Meanwhile selling via channels is growing because of increasingly complex and customized customer needs and companies looking to expand globally. (One report by the Aberdeen Group, suggests that B2B channel sales are growing by 9% annually.)
This means that more companies are using channel models and wasting 60% of that marketing budget. Again, ouch.
Channel sales and marketing has more moving pieces and it's harder to get accurate data than marketing and selling directly. This means that the need for strong channel managers is critical. Below is an overview of how The Channel Institute trains channel marketers to help them deliver successful and repeatable partner marketing programs. We call this framework: P.A.C.K.A.G.E.S.
This handy framework covers the core topics channel marketers need to master in order to plan, develop and manage partner programs. In our live courses, managers build their partner strategy in real-time, making this experiential and practical.
Let’s look at each of these topics and how they work together.
P – Priorities
Planning is critical and the best place to start. A channel marketing strategy needs to be a part of the bigger business strategy, otherwise, any marketing investment runs a giant risk of failure. We use SMART goals - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Based and build this into a coherent go-to-market plan. To build a robust plan, follow the rest of this framework...
A – Audience
“We can sell to anybody.” Blah! No thank you. In the world of B2B marketing this kind of "shotgun spray and pray” approach is usually a waste of time and money. The more targeted the better, so get out your lasers. A better example could sound like this: “This campaign is targeting CFO of midsize healthcare companies in (a specific geography).” That’s better. Knowing the audience, we can now come up with targeted messaging that increases response rates (see Key Concepts).
C – Content
Oh content. Where to begin? Every company will (or should) have their list of tactics they like to use and where they like to use it within the buyer’s journey. From face-to-face events and tradeshows to digital marketing, SEO and tele, there are dozens of tactics to choose from. Mapping out what to do, when and why will increase the likelihood of building a strong pipeline.
K – Key Concepts
The Forrester report referenced above points out that weak messaging is one of the top reasons co-marketing investments fail. Make sure your channel managers can help strengthen messaging, specifically each partner's differentiators and value propositions.
A – Analytics
If you can measure it, you can manage it. At least that’s how the saying goes. But there’s truth here. Channel marketing programs need realistic, relevant KPIs while keeping all parties responsible for tracking results. Trained and experienced managers know what to measure and how to hold partners accountable.
G – Germinate
How can a channel marketer win friends and influence people? Here is where we look at communication tools that help persuade key decision makers and improve manager confidence. (Note this module is only available in our customized programs.)
E – Educate
B2B Marketing is all about educating the right prospects at the right time. To do this a working nurturing strategy is a must. Spend extra time making sure partners are nurturing leads because most leads need this if they are ever going to turn into clients. We also need to educate our sales and marketing teams to better work together. The Handshake between marketing and sales needs to be seamless.
S – Scrutinize
Poke around at all aspects of your marketing programs. What message lands better than others? Who is responding? How is the lead follow-up going? Are the KPIs reasonable? How accurate were the assumptions? Is the lead nurturing showing results? We provide a complete checklist for managers to use to help them handle the ongoing changes all programs encounter.
Wrapping up the package:
As new planning cycle arise, a channel marketer can pull out a P.A.C.K.A.G.E.S. checklist and run through the core areas that need attention.
Inevitably, gaps are identified. Maybe the audience segmentation isn’t sharp enough or maybe the target audience is too small. If the target audience gets adjusted, does that require the messaging (Key Concepts) to need adjusting? What happens when new targets get set? Changes made to the packages checklist should happen frequently. Once all sections are updated, the result is a robust co-marketing strategic plan.
Remember, this is not a linear framework! (Is anything in the marketing world linear?) Like the real world, this framework is iterative and interconnected, so learning how to scrutinize a partner program, identify and fix gaps is critical.
60% of B2B channel marketing investments are wasted. Don't be a part of this majority!